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Interview: King Mob
Published on July 2nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
King Mob – comprised of Chris Spedding (Roxy Music, Elton John, John Cale, Paul McCartney), drummer Martin Chambers (Pretenders), front man Stephen W Parsons aka Snips (Sharks), guitarist Sixteen and bassist Toshi Ogawa – are set to release their new single “I Was There (Olympix Edit)” on 23rd July in order to celebrate this wonderfully sport-filled summer. Rocksucker caught up with Snips to discuss the problematic media campaign behind their otherwise warmly received debut album Force 9, and in the process found out that a second LP is ready for recording when the time is right. First, though, check out this choice cut from the album…
The album’s been out for a while, hasn’t it?
You know what, it’s a very difficult situation, and one of the reasons why we put this single out. We brought the album out and we were really pleased with it, as was everybody around the band, so we assumed that it would get a fair amount of coverage. As it happens, we got very little. The album’s been out since October last year and it just keeps coming back, keeps getting reviews. Nowadays things seem to happen very quickly or not at all, and we’re in a bit of an odd situation because the album seems to be finding friends as it goes.
We decided to make a proper, old-school album – in other words, we think every track is really strong, so people are actually listening to it as an entire album rather than just plucking two or three tracks for their iPod. That’s one of the reasons why we decided to cut “I Was There” down to a more radio-friendly shape and release it as a single. Hopefully it will draw attention to what we think is a really strong album. We aren’t as far along as I would have liked – I would have liked for the band to work the festival circuit this year – but because the feedback’s come over a ten-month period rather than three weeks, we didn’t get the attention when we needed it, in time for the summer.
We’re planning to do another album and we have to make it better than Force 9, then look at next summer. We’re a band that plays very well live – as a front man it’s a real pleasure because you can throw anything at them and they’ll go “yeah, great” and tear it out. Hopefully we’ll get to where we want to, even if it’s nine months later than we would have liked.
You guys seem to have quite a few side projects going…
Those developed because we had plans to really work the summer festivals but because that didn’t come about we all got on with other stuff. Spedding’s had quite a lot of dates with Bryan Ferry and he does a duo thing with Robert Gordon, who’s a great rockabilly singer from America. I’ve got a kind of mysterious project going on which our bass player Toshi is also involved in. Our young guitar player Sixteen has a great rockabilly band called The Sindwinders – I haven’t actually seen them yet but I saw a video of them playing and it’s tremendous.
Is Sixteen his real name?
No, sixteen is the number of the flat he lives in. He lives in like a convent with a bunch of people, and when I was introduced to him someone jokingly called him Sixteen and I said, “Yeah alright, that’ll do.”
On your website you attribute the album’s lack of coverage to a “a disastrous media campaign in which the band were presented as a bunch of old stagers giving it ‘one last go’”…
I really do think that. If you’ve got a band with older guys in it – or ‘veterans’, whichever you want – then the obvious response from the media is going to be “yeah, so what?” We started with an album of completely new material, taking a contemporary approach to the old spirit of rock and roll, but that did not get put across by the people we hired to do our media campaign – they simply put it out there and expected it to get the coverage, and I honestly don’t think you can do that nowadays. You’ve got to point it out to people and I do not feel that that was done with enough vitality and energy to present what the band actually is. That’s probably why the album’s been discovered slowly rather than in an immediate rush.
Have you given much thought to album two yet?
Yeah, it’s mostly either demoed or structured. In other words we’ve got about fifteen or sixteen songs that will end up being ten or eleven I guess because a lot of our stuff is quite long, like five or six minutes. We’re discussing with the record company at the moment when, how and what the next stage will be, but we’re about ready to record it.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your life with the back catalogues of just five different musical artists, whose would you choose?
Wow. You’re kind of restricted to people who’ve had a lot of albums. Let me think… Led Zeppelin’s an obvious one for me. A lot of people see them as just a rock group but I think they were a very unusual band. A similar thing’s happened with them – in the last twenty years or so since they broke up, they’ve got bigger and bigger as the years have gone by, because people are kind of realising how much ground they covered.
Marvin Gaye is a singer I really admire, and although he’s not really an album guy except for What’s Going On, there’s enough terrific stuff to take his Greatest Hits. I’d go for Nina Simone – she’s absolutely boss, I’ve got a lot of time for her. The Beatles would be in there, and I have to confess that when I was younger I was never a Beatles fan when I was younger – they were everywhere and I was just like, “I’m sick of them.” It took me many, many years to get into The Beatles and realise how fantastic they were.
So I’ve got one left? You’ve got Al Green, Jackie Wilson, Ike and Tina Turner…I’m going to stick with the Motown and go with The Temptations. They did so many different kinds of stuff because they had different producers – there’s the kids stuff like “My Girl” or “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, then you get on later to stuff like “Psychedelic Shack” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, which is really sophisticated, almost psychedelic.
Stephen W Parsons, thank you.
“I Was There (Olympix Edit)” will be released July 23rd on SPV Records to celebrate this summer of sport. For more information, please visit www.kingmob-beatgroup.com